Al Qaida, Vikings, similar both don't fear death


Jersay
#1
http://militaryhistory.about.com/gi/...S2%2FIndex.htm

Introduction
In the end of the 8th century, the first Vikings began their journey from Scandinavia. For over two hundred years, they were going to sail across the world and put fear to their enemies. The myths about the Vikings are still today very vivid and strong. Say the name "Viking" to someone and maybe the first thing one thinks of is a giant man with a weapon of some kind in his hand, who never would hesitate when it comes to fight or even kill someone. And we know that the Vikings were successful in battles, at least at the beginning of the Viking Age. But what made them that? Why were the Vikings so successful (from a military point of view) ? To accomplish this task we will compare the Vikings arsenal, boats and organisation with their opponents, particulary the Franks. We will also investigate how psychology affected the Vikings' military success.

The Vikings Arsenal
The Viking arsenal did not possess many types of different weapons, but it was still effective at the beginning of the Viking age. To make the description of the weapons more clear I will when I write about every Viking weapon compare it to weapons of the Frankish arsenal. Facts found for this text have its base in relics found in Viking graves or in Viking homes.

As said before, the spear was a standard weapon among the Vikings. It only had a small edge of metal at a longer handle of wood. This made it easy and cheap to make and also manageable as both a thrusting and slashing weapon. It was an effective weapon since it did not take much training to use. The Vikings could also throw spears, and they used the spears as both thrusting and slashing weapons. Although the general thought is that the Vikings used the spears with two hands, they may very well have used the spears with a shield, making them more effective. The typical Viking spears where long and thin and where constructed so they could be used as both thrusting and slashing weapons. The Franks, among others, equipped their infantry with spears that where about nine feet long and where given to their infantry (Almost all of the Vikings where infantry). The spearmen did often protect the horsemen/cavalry, which is different from the Vikings, since they used the spearmen as effective as other units in offensive capacity; but then again, they did not have any advanced cavalry unit. The Vikings could throw all their spears in the beginning of a battle and then attack the remains of their enemies with some other equipment. This is, however, not a unique tactic for the Vikings.

The shield was also a common object on the battlefield, since it was made of wood and cheap to make. It also had the quality of cheap equipment since it only lasted in one battle. Ox hide covered some shields in order of making them of a better quality. Now, the main difference between the two shield types was that the Franks had kite shields while the Vikings had their circular shields. The kite shields oval squared form made that they protected more areas of the human body while worn, but was harder to manoeuvre because of its size. The circular shield, on the other hand, was easier to manoeuvre because it was slightly smaller, but then the carrier actually HAD to manoeuvre it in order of protecting the parts of the body that the Kite shield could protect without to much effort. Except the difference of form between the two shield types, they were pretty similar in general since they both where of wood and both types could be covered in oxhide.

The long knife was a common weapon. This was not a superior weapon, but it was as well a tool as a weapon and where therefore found among almost all of the Vikings. It was used as a machete or regular utility knife among the Vikings. The long knife did also not have a blade longer than the spearhead, so there was not expensive production costs. The long knife was not unique for the Vikings but in other countries, for example the Frankish countries, the soldiers used daggers or short swords. All these weapons were very common and most people on the battlefield used them.

The axe has somehow become a characteristic for the Viking. The one handed axe was as common as the spear and long knife, even for other countries, but there were a number of different types of axes. There was the regular, one handed axe, which also could be used as a tool and this axe did not differ from Frankish axes at all. However, there where also the two handed axes, that was about 1-1,5 metres in length, with two edges and that could cut through a shield and kill the man behind it. This great axe was unique for the Vikings, and very rare in a battlefield. This differed greatly from Frankish axes and the Franks did not really have anything that could be compared to this since most other countries had started using the sword by the time that the Vikings became associated to the axe. Practically all Vikings having spears and long knifes equipped did also have a one handed axe with them. The one handed axe was almost as usual to the rest of the world as to the Vikings. The one handed axe could be used after throwing away your spear at the enemy.

And the last weapon in the arsenal, the sword, was a favourite weapon and known, as a weapon of status, but actually it was too expensive to be common. In Viking graves there have been documented that there often was an axe standing for being the burial weapon but it has been rare ever finding a grave where a sword where located. Mainly because there were huge amounts of metal needed, making it a whole lot more expensive in making if you compare the costs for making a spear, which only had a 25-50 cm long and thin spearhead. Since the costs where so high, only Viking kings or men in ranks near a king would have this weapon. But the sword where not entirely made by the Vikings, since the blade was imported from the Franks! The blade was sharp on both edges and about 90 cm long. The sword where mostly made for slashing and where therefore not as effective for thrusting. After the sword had been imported a while, the Scandinavian smiths started to copy the design. The swords where carried in one hand, accompanied by a shield making the swordsmen very effective at the battlefield. Since the swords where imported from the Franks, there where no difference between these two sword types, other than the Franks had it easier getting their swords so it was a more common weapon in the Frankish arsenal. The Franks used the swords in the same way the Vikings did except that they had different shields of course.

The helmets of the Vikings are a pretty discussed chapter because of the mention of horns. Therefore it must be verified that THE VIKINGS DID NEVER HAVE HORNS ON THEIR HELMETS. This is a huge historical miss that was made after a finding of a helmet of Celtic origin in a Danish Viking excavation. The helms where, just like the swords, only used by the rich and wealthy since they where made of iron. The Viking helms where first influenced by the roman cavalry helms that where called Vendel helms. The Vendel helm was eventually replaced by the simpler, but effective, spangelhelm. This helm was made of four triangular plates of metal and over these there was a pair of criss-crossing bands and a final band circled the rim. Some differences between the helmets where that some had splints in back instead of neckplate while others had elaborate crests running from the centre of the forehead back over the crown. The Franks did also use the spangelhelm so there where not a big difference in the use of helmets. If the common Vikings ever wore a helm, it was probably a leather hat, which was cheaper, but evidence have not been found for this. This can however be explained by the fact that leather decays and is therefore seldom found in graves etc.

And so we have finally come to the armour of the Vikings. The armour was also only a war gear worn by the richest men. The most appreciated armour among the Vikings was the byrnie, or shirt of chainmail as it also was called. Actually, the Franks and Vikings did not differ from the Vikings to much when it came to the use of armour since both Vikings and Franks used the chainmail, but they also had leather armour for the ones who could not afford an expensive chainmail. The chainmail was made by putting iron rings in a series of four by punching them from a plate and the fact that it required 30000 rings in one average shirt made it very expensive because of the effort made in making it. Most of the shirts had half-length sleeves and covered from the shoulders to the legs. The mail shirt offered good protection against a sword and axe blow but not so much protection against the thrust from a spear.

Viking Organisation and Opportunism
The Viking age begun with the sudden attack on the monastery of Lindisfarme in 793 AD. Although according to the Anglo-Saxon chronicle the raids started a few years earlier. The monastery was located on an island and at the time it was believed that no one would be able to attack for the see, nor did any one believe that someone could be barbaric enough to attack a monastery, so the monastery was unprotected and couldn't defend itself. This made Lindisfarme into a very good target for the Vikings. But Lindisfarme was not the only monastery that would be plundered. One year later a convent in Jarrow a few miles from Lindisfarme. The plundering of Lindisfarme and Jarrow and the wealth that the plunders brought home started a wave of Viking raids many targeting monasteries.

During the earlier Viking age there were no real centralised power and most of the power rested on local chefs and warlords, kings existed but their power where limited. The only nation that seems to have had a strong king is Denmark but after the death of the Danish king Godfred in 810 this centralised power crumble with different nobleman fighting form power. The first Viking raids where most likely organised by a few chefs that banded together under the command of a chosen leader or a local king. Most towns at the time didn't have any standing troops ready to defend them against an attack, and therefor relied on early warning to give time to form a defence. Since the Vikings came from the see such early warning was a luxury and a typical Viking raid would have been over and the Vikings gone, long before enough troops had been assembled to fight the Vikings.

Britain and Ireland were at the 8th and the 9th century divided into many small kingdoms with kings that where constantly struggling to increase their own power. That meant that the kingdoms were ill prepared to defend themselves against the Vikings. The Vikings seems to have known about the lack of organised resistance because during the earliest Viking age Britain and Ireland where raided almost every year. During the late 8th century and the beginning of the 9th century the Frankish Empire were the only European empires that were organised enough to actually fight the Vikings. During this time few Viking raids seems to have been conducted against the Fransish Empire instead the francs seems to have been to once that where on the offensive. The interests of the Frankish king Charlemagne and those of the Danish king Godfred did not go had in hand and after a failed military campaign Godfred withdraw to Denmark and begun building a wall to fortify Denmark's southern boarder. After the death of the Frankish king Louis I 840 the Frankish Empire was split up and three years of internal struggling followed. During this three years the first major Viking raids against the Franks is conducted. The internal struggles made the Frankish Empire as vulnerable to the Viking raids as the British and Irelands had been. It is reasonable to suspect that the Vikings picked targets that were vulnerable and that that is why the Frankish Empire was relatively saved from Viking raids until 841 ad.

To defend against the Vikings the Vest-Frankish King Charles II creates a system of grand Vassals with extensive military power. This unfortunately weakens the central power of the kingdom and therefor makes the kingdom vulnerable for the more organised Viking raids that starts to appear at this time. If the Vikings begun organise themselves to respond against the more organised defences of their targets is hard to tell but during this time the first Viking raids with more then a thousand Vikings take place. One of the fist towns to be raided by such a massive fleet is Paris. 845 a Viking fleet of over one hundred ships besieged Paris and the Charles II is forced to pay a huge ransom of seven thousand pound of silver to end the siege. The rumours of this huge wealth encourage more Vikings to try to do the same thing.

The Vikings' Ships Played an Important Role
The Vikings' Ships was very important when plundering villages and monasteries and in fights with other war-desirous seamen. Unlike other ships these days the Vikings' Ships were capable of navigating shallow waters. The keel on a typical Viking ship were usually about 0,5 meter beneath the water surface which also made them very fast. What is not expected from a boat like this is their good carrying capacity. Each boat were not just able to transport many men, but also horses. This made the Vikings prepared to fight at sea, as well as on land.

The ships could only be built up to heaped 20 meters seeing that the keel was made of an oak. And the keel was heavily charged since the ship's low gunwales (See picture) did not contribute with extra stability. The boats were elastic built which also prevented extra weight on the keel. The ribs were for example bound together with the boards, and not riveted. Because of this, they could not splice the keel, and therefore not build ships longer than the oak that was used. As you can notice on the picture, the boats could make their way through the water by oars which was good when sneaking in to enemies shores without getting noticed, and by sailing which is faster travelling out at sea.

Another benefit with their boats' shallow keels was that they easily could sneak up on who they were attacking. The boats could land almost everywhere unlike many other boats. A landing-stage was usually required. If they for example were going to plunder a village, no one would be suspicious until their sudden appearance and then would it be to late to get help. The Vikings would disappear as fast as they appeared, and the enemy would not have time to gather people for a counterattack.

Many villages were located in floods and rivers some kilometers from the opening. An attack from the sea was in these villages probably quite unexpected seeing that waters in floods and rivers often are very shallow. Other boats these days had often a deeper keel, which made them slower and also precluded navigation in waters like these. Because of this, they could not even catch up with the Viking' Ships.

The Vikings had the knowledge of navigating by the stars over open seas. Many seamen did not have this knowledge and were therefore forced to sail along the coast. This also made the Vikings success seeing that the risk to be observed from their preliminary target were much less sailing far from land. The Vikings attacks did not stop until villages and monasteries built coast defenses. The opponents were then able to meet the Vikings with own fleets at sea in order to prevent sudden attacks and plundering.

Psycology and Fear made the Vikings a Big Favour
A prayer in a French church sometime during the age of the Vikings said: "Save us, o God, for the fury of the Vikings." (Viking, Vikingatågens orsaker, page 26, row: 19-20) This reflects an important explanation to the success of the Vikings: Psychology. People feared them and they, apparently, feared nothing.

To start with, let us look at the Viking perspective the warrior Viking had no reason to fear death, because he believed that the way to "Valhall", the Viking idea of heaven, was dying with your sword in your hand. If you did, you would be allowed to fight every day in heaven, according to "Nordiska Gudar och Hjältesagor" (page 59). Battle was a matter of honor for the Viking and not perceived as something evil. This is not the way to paradise in other religions. In the bible, killing is considered one of the most serious sins. The road to heaven is through good deeds.

In the book "Nordiska Gudar och Hjältesagor" (page 289-290) there is a story about the Viking Sigurd, who got himself a sword. This sword gave him the strength and courage to even kill dragons. The story shows how the sword - the instrument of death - is surrounded by mystery and magic. And it also shows that, already at this time, stories and stories of this kind were told to suit the target audience. In this case, the audience wanted to hear about great battles and magic swords - it gave them courage.

But, of course, the Vikings did not only carry out their dangerous operations in far-away land for the sake of battle and adventure. Greed (gold) was an imporant motive. As said in the Gripsholm rune stone, in Mariefred, as quoted in an issue of the Historiska museet´s newspaper "Historiska Nyheter", 1980.

"Tola raised this stone after his son Harald, Ingvar´s brother With bravery he went far away to search for gold."

When the Vikings went out to collect their gold, they often did it by plundering defensless villages. This made their victims look at the Vikings with great horror. Legends and rumours such as the legends about the dreaded berserks also increased the fear for the Vikings, so did also the Viking ships and the Vikings navigational skill that allowed them to attack any settlement close to water without any warning. As a result their opponents were psychologically inferior. This enabled the Vikings to use something called the Danagäld": According to "Nationalencyklopedin" (Search-word: Danagäld) Danagäld means that people, especially in England, payed a ransom so the Vikings would not attack them. They were so afraid, that instead of having the Vikings plunder their villages and killing their friends and countrymen, they would give the Vikings land and gold.

Even in architecture the fear of Vikings could be seen. This is a picture of a defence tower near a monastery. It was built for protection against the Vikings. It indicates on that even people as peaceful as monks had to take violent actions in order to defend themselves. They feared their threat.

Conclusion
The viking arsenal did not differ much from their opponents and did therefore not play a major part in the Vikings' success. The major factors which made the Vikings succesful were:
- Their psycological advantage. They inspired fear in their enemies and were therefore able to win a battle before it even started.
- Their naval supperiority gave them two important advantages. They were able to attack any target that were located somewhere close to water and they were also able to make sudden attacks without giving the enemy time to organise their defenses.
- Another reason of their success was that many of the early Viking raids were conducted at already disorganised kingdoms.
 
Finder
#2
If the Byzantines, wern't so corupted and disorginized at times to which they lost many Roman and Eastern Roman techs by either misuse or not using them once they felt they were no longer needed the Byzantines would have been the strongest navel power even during the viking age. the Byzantines Dromon Greek fire ships would have dominated the sea's until the time of Ironclads, if the Byzantines had kept these ships in service, kept expirmenting, or at least didn't forget about the tech. It is thought that they may have stopped building the Dromon Greek Fire ships to prevent other civs from getting the ability to build them. But if they at least had kept the knowledge a little better they could have always build them later. The Greek Fire Ships had kept the Byzantine (Eastern Roman Empire) from collasping long before it did during an early conflic with the Ottomins (if I remember right).
 
cortezzz
#3
interesting post

the other culture that comes to mind -- in this fearlessness of death --

is japan

the zen philosophy of the samuria which aided the warrior not to fear death

and the-- kamakazes
 
Daz_Hockey
#4
Did'nt hitler say he loved Islam because it allowed it's followers to die for their god?....

lovely just like the devine wind, also idiotic
 
nelk
#5
Thanks Jersay for this historic refresher; waiting for your take on connecting to Al Qaida of today.

Vikings as you descibe them, operated quick hit and run operation and used the element of surprise.
But the also colonised even across long distances and founded outposts from Canada to Russia and to the south.

We all know the outcome and even if not always successful they left lasting imprints.

So is this what is coming for Canada?

Should we build "towers" or pay the "Danagaeld"?

Do Canadians care, are they aware of todays political outfall here already and much more on the way ?

Or should we just pretend everything is fine in Multiculti LaLa Land?

In any case we can't say this was surprise and out of the blue, or?

PS
I got some Viking blood in me; so forgive me when I use both hands to swing my ax. LOL
 
cortezzz
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by Daz_Hockey

Did'nt hitler say he loved Islam because it allowed it's followers to die for their god?....

lovely just like the devine wind, also idiotic

it depends what your dying for
for god-- well yes a little idiotic

but for the sake of ones children---
 
Finder
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by cortezzz

Quote: Originally Posted by Daz_Hockey

Did'nt hitler say he loved Islam because it allowed it's followers to die for their god?....

lovely just like the devine wind, also idiotic

it depends what your dying for
for god-- well yes a little idiotic

but for the sake of ones children---

both leave a bad taste in my mouth...


nelk, I don't think Canada is a Utopian society, nor has it ever been the dream of any Canadian leader (in power) to turn Canada into one. Though it is a national myth which may finally be falling apart that our leaders were socialist and wanted a multicultural land based on equility when this is just not true. I think it was the Canadian physique which made this dream possible. However I do believe we've excepted other culturers pretty well and I would not wish to copy the American dream (nightmare). Again I'm sure there's a few Islamic nut jobs in Canada which would be more then happy to bring down one of our buildings, but there are most likely a few Christian, communist and so on fantics which would as well. Does this mean we throw away or watch closer all Communists, Islamists and Christians in Canada.... Or treat them any differently. I don't think so.

Of course, fear, ignorance and hate are much more powerful and easyier to comprehend then logic, peace and equility.
 
Jersay
#8
The connection that I am trying to make is that Al Qaida followers at least the hardline foot soldiers who listen to what Bin Landen and others say, don't fear death. It is better to be a maytr which makes them similar to the Vikings when they battled they also didn't fear death in their battles which was why it was it wasn't easy to defeat them.

Now you could say, maybe its similar, maybe the Vikings would be what Al Qaeda is today, who knows, I wouldn't say it myself but they have similarities in their mindsets.
 
nelk
#9
Finder wrote

nelk, I don't think Canada is a Utopian society, nor has it ever been the dream of any Canadian leader (in power) to turn Canada into one. Though it is a national myth agree

which may finally be falling apart that our leaders were socialist and wanted a multicultural land based on equility when this is just not true. agree

I think it was the Canadian physique which made this dream possible. However I do believe we've excepted other culturers pretty well correct

and I would not wish to copy the American dream (nightmare)compered to Canada?.

Again I'm sure there's a few Islamic nut jobs in Canada hope not; oh by the way, wasn't there a thread about nutcase Marc Lepine killing 13 female students in Montreal ,where the press downplayed is actual true motives of being a "Jihadist" and proud of it??

which would be more then happy to bring down one of our buildings, but there are most likely a few Christian ?LOL??,

communist scratching my head!

and so on fantics which would as well. Does this mean we throw away or watch closer all Communists never been relevant now and before in Canada,

Islamists trust her Majesties Secret Services are watching

and Christians in Canada a real danger!!!!

.... Or treat them any differently. I don't think so.
It would be treason not to


Of course, fear, ignorance and hate are much more powerful and easyier to comprehend then logic, peace and equility Show me this Lotusland and I recant.



Jersay phrased


Al Qaeda is today

similarities in their mindsets(VIKINGS)

didn't fear death in their battles which was why it was it wasn't easy to defeat them.


Can I see some similarities,yes.


So how can we reconcile deathwish of certain "fellow man" with the last words Finder wrote.

Show me the way


PS sorry for this playing with BOLD and Italics (by nelk); just testing
No offence svp
 
Jersay
#10
With Al Qadea operatives you conduct security but never forget the reasons why men and women become so deathlike.

1. Show them hope.

2. Have a fair foreign policy, no sneaky ideals like it was during the cold war.

and 3. End poverty and such.
 
Colpy
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by Jersay

With Al Qadea operatives you conduct security but never forget the reasons why men and women become so deathlike.

1. Show them hope.

2. Have a fair foreign policy, no sneaky ideals like it was during the cold war.

and 3. End poverty and such.

I see reports of your demise are somewhat premature! :P
 
Jersay
#12
Well I was just sitting around since I couldn't go to work today because they phoned at 11 p.m. last night not to come in, I spent some of the day playing PS2 and doing chores for my Parents, and decided just to check up.
 
Finder
#13
nelk, never say never, because you were actually wrong about the communists. If you remember a few decades ago a radical group called "Direct Action" bombed a few coperate targets and injured a security guard in the process. Though the members of "Direct Action" are now out of jail and "reformed" they have claimed their intentions were never to injure anyone.


Jersay
If Al Qaida and the vikings were similar, who was Osama Bin Nord?
 
Finder
#14
Just in case you guys thought I was making it up that we had communist terrorism in Canada, her is a link.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squamish_Five

We've indeed actually had more communist terorism in Canada then anything else. Besides "Direct Action" the FLQ had an unorthadox-Marxist leaning to it and was pretty left wing. So far I know of no Islamic Terrorist actions in Canada. though correct me if I am wrong.


edit: though in that link it says they were not motivated by Marxist beliefs, I have read other books which have stated they were all influanced by Marx and have seen interviews by the members of the group which admitted to admiring Marx.
 
nelk
#15
Allright Finder, "never" may be the wrong expression here.

But in terms of concern and worries in this context , a movement/group intend on (or perceived to) harming society
has to "demonstrate" it's true character.
If we to witness some events out of the blue, but eventually can see a pattern and able to connect the dots, real concern and increased actions must follow (or heading off prior).

The reference of the Squamish Five does not ring my alarm bells as far as potential future developments go.

They had their time in the sun and were dealt with, end of that story.

So I better not say ,it will "never" happen again.
But based on my observations and feeling (the old style) Communism had its day.



Cheers
 
GreenGreta
#16
Sorry, I didn't read the thread

Good soldiers shouldn't fear death. The fear would get in the way of their jobs and they shouldn't allow that to happen. They have jobs to do.
 
Finder
#17
I am just pointing out Canada has had more trouble with the radical extreme left then radical Islamism. That is all I'm pointing out.
 

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